Last week I began a mini-series on prayer journaling that naturally sparked some conversation about journaling in the comments. Though journaling and prayer journaling are synonyms, I wanted to write a post about the differences I see between these two helpful practices.
So I hope you’ll indulge me for a bit of a “rabbit trail” in my focus this week. I’ll return next week by unpacking another way I prayer journal that has improved my marriage because it has convicted me in one key way.
What I consider journaling (non-prayer focused) to be . . .
- Outlet for self-exploration of feelings
- Resource for calming our emotions
- Exercise for identifying hidden patterns in our thoughts and behaviors
- Tool for problem solving
5 ways that prayer journaling differs . . .
1. It’s an outlet for self-examination of feelings.
Though self-examination includes self-exploration, it starts with exploration and moves toward identifying the sins that lurk underneath our feelings. Many times our feelings are not sinful, at least not initially, so we must inspect them in prayerful ways.
Remember that the Bible tells us we can feel anger and not sin (see Eph. 4:26). And we can and should sometimes feel fear, especially when encountering danger. After all, it would be foolish to not immediately recoil in fear when encountering a deadly spider or snake. Right?
2. It’s a Power for calming and soothing our feelings
There’s just something about exploring our feelings that brings a sense of being in control, as well as finding perspective. However, the same can be true of prayer journaling and more! That’s because God is the Source of that peace and healing.
And it’s healing to find God opening my eyes to all that He alone sees and not just what I can identify as I write out my feelings and thoughts. Which leads me to the next point . . .
3. God reveals and convicts me of hidden patterns and sins
With prayer journaling, I don’t rely on my own wisdom and insight to make these important connections like I might with journaling. As I prayer journal, I ask the Lord to reveal these sins and He is always faithful to do so in a way that blows my mind and humbles my heart. Remember . . .
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” ~Jeremiah 17:9
Therefore, we can’t fully rely on our own understanding. We desperately need God’s illumination.
4. God enables me to see the right next steps
There have been times when I would’ve chosen to do something completely different than what the Lord revealed I should do through my prayers and prayer journaling. After looking back on some of those logical decisions I would’ve made, I’ve seen how God’s “next steps” were far superior. Whenever I’ve listened and done what He’s made clear to me, I always experience the best response to my problems.
5. God works in it to resolve my problems
As I prayer journal, I’m not just problem-solving with the Lord’s insight, I’m asking Him to intervene and help! You certainly don’t do that with regular journaling. You’re left with only your human devices and wisdom to face the conflict.
But as for me, I’ve seen God work in miraculous ways through prayer journaling—often resolving my conflicts in ways that I never saw or imagined coming quite like God alone has done for me.
What are some other differences you can identify between journaling and prayer journaling?
What is one prayer you’ve seen God answer in your life recently?
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